Yesterday, the Teachers’ Day had me thinking about my mentors, how they enriched my life and how grateful I am to them.

I have also had the opportunity to mentor others and I strongly believe that mentoring relationships are very special for both the mentor and the mentee. They foster personal growth and self-worth in both in addition to building a special bond between the two people. The mentee may receive more direct assistance and opportunities but mentor receives benefits as well, including useful information, and a sense of fulfillment and pride. For mentoring relationships to succeed, there needs to be a baseline rapport between a mentor and a mentee. It propels people to break from their formal roles and titles and find common ground. The best strongest mentoring relationships develop from real and often earned connections, felt by both sides.

If you are a mentee in search of a mentor, here are some tips from Sheryl Sandberg from her book ‘lean In’ –

  • Contact your prospective mentor with an interesting point or a thoughtful question. Be crisp and focused.
  • Do not ask for a general ‘catch up’.
  • Do not ask a question that you can find an answer to yourself.
  • Do your homework and know what the leader you are seeking guidance from cares for and can best help you with.
  • Be respectful of mentor’s time.
  • Remember that few mentors have time for excessive handholding.
  • Always close the loop with the mentor on the result of the discussion.

If you are a mentor, keen to support people, here is what I would encourage you to keep in mind – 

  • Be more than a career mentor and support their best interests. Don’t seek only to uncover their strengths; look for your mentees’ underlying passions, too. Help them be the best versions of themselves.
  • Be loyal to your mentee. The best mentors support the dreams of their mentees. If an employee and a job aren’t a good fit, or if an ambitious employee realistically has limited potential for growth in a company, a good mentor will help that employee move on. They might be better suited to another role within the organization, or even to a new path somewhere else.
  • Be a role model. Show vulnerability, and share authentically about your own experiences. Help to shape your mentees’ values, self-awareness, and empathy. You do not have to solve their problems for them but be supportive, affirming, and be clear about what you know and don’t know.

Research proves that people with mentors perform better, advance in their careers fast, and are more satisfied with their work and life. It is the responsibility of both the mentor and the mentee to make their relationship work. After all, mentoring is a relationship of care nurtured by time, rapport, trust, and respect from both sides.

Do share what makes your mentoring relationships special to you?